About the PTSD Repository
For Researchers

Why is it needed?

Researchers and clinicians have long relied on published meta-analyses and literature reviews to understand effective treatments. These sources are useful, but they can quickly become outdated, and none include all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on PTSD treatments. There was no single, comprehensive source of information available that could answer questions about all types of interventions or other study details that might matter to researchers, clinicians, patients, and their families.
The PTSD Repository was designed to address these drawbacks. It brings together data from 496 published studies on a wide range of treatments and is updated annually to capture new studies. The information in it is wide in scope and rich in detail, including over 300 variables.
The PTSD Repository allows researchers to quickly identify relevant studies and download data in a variety of formats for the purpose of conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

What is in it?

The PTSD Repository contains data from RCTs conducted in adults with PTSD published from January 1988 through February 2023. Each year we identify studies by searching multiple databases including the National Center for PTSD’s PTSDpubs, MEDLINE®, Cochrane CENTRAL, and PsycINFO®. We also review reference lists of systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines for relevant RCTs.
The studies included in the PTSD Repository are specific to PTSD treatment. Most studies target PTSD outcomes. These RCTs may also examine the impact of the PTSD treatment on other mental health conditions and co-occurring problems (such as difficulty sleeping or anger). In addition, the PTSD Repository includes studies that intentionally target both PTSD and substance use disorder (SUD), conditions that often co-occur. Users can choose to look at all the studies, focus specifically on the studies of PTSD treatment alone, or just look at the PTSD plus SUD studies.
The table below gives details about the population, intervention and study design requirements (PICOTS) that studies had to meet in order to be included.
Studies in the PTSD Repository are categorized into the following 8 treatment categories: psychotherapy (trauma-focused versus non-trauma focused), pharmacotherapy, complementary and integrative health (CIH), nonpharmacologic biological, nonpharmacologic cognitive, collaborative care, control, and "other treatments" that do not fit into the other categories. See the table below or our Reference Guide: Treatments Found in the PTSD Repository that outlines the organization and provides definitions. 
If a study compared more than 1 type of treatment, both treatment types were coded. For example, some studies are coded as psychotherapy and pharmacotherapypsychotherapy and CIH or other mixed. The table below shows the treatment categories along with some specific treatments that fall under those categories. The list of specific treatments is not exhaustive. To search for a specific treatment in the PTSD Repository, go to the Study Interventions dataset. From there you can search for a Treatment Name (assigned by the investigators) or a Standardized Treatment Name (a more general category assigned by the National Center for PTSD). 
Because we want to be able to answer a variety of questions about PTSD treatment, we extract more than 300 variables from the studies we identify. For example, in addition to treatment type, we track assessment instruments used, assessment method, study sample size, proportion of military/Veteran participants, trauma types and treatment response, among others. 
Risk of bias is available for every RCT in the PTSD Repository, using Cochrane’s Risk of Bias 2 criteria. Researchers can obtain coding for each of the domains as well as the overall risk of bias rating. Learn more about Risk of Bias Assessment in the PTSD Repository.

How do I use it?

To get started on the PTSD Repository we recommend reading two of our stories:
  • How are the data organized? provides details about the organization of the data and where to located it on the PTSD Repository.
  • How do I start working with the PTSD Repository? references numerous tutorials available on how to access and use the platform and describes how data can be downloaded in a variety of formats, including CSV, RDF, RSS, XML, CSV for Excel, TSV for Excel, KML, KMZ, Shapefile, and GeoJSON. This story also includes information about how to export data to compatible statistical software programs.

How was the PTSD Repository developed?

The PTSD Repository is a project of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD), the world's leading research and educational center of excellence on PTSD and traumatic stress. Through an interagency agreement with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), data were abstracted by the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC), a research center at Oregon Health & Science University, following AHRQ's Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews. This included convening a technical expert panel whose members represented a range of clinical and research perspectives on PTSD treatment. We consulted with these experts throughout the development process. We also received input from independent peer reviewers and sought public comment before publication, per AHRQ guidelines. Read more about the development process, annual reports and publications using PTSD Repository data. 

What's next for the PTSD Repository?

The PTSD Repository will continue to be updated annually. Since launching the platform, we expanded the pool of studies to include trials of treatments for co-occurring substance abuse and PTSD. In 2023, risk of bias ratings were added for all studies using the Cochrane's Risk of Bias 2 rating system. The 2023 update also included standardized effect sizes which make it easier to compare treatment effectiveness across studies.

Stay in touch with us

We would be interested in hearing from you at NCPTSD@va.gov if you use data from the PTSD Repository for your own research or dissemination projects.